Easing the pain of fibromyalgia

column-Healthy-AnswrQ. I’ve been suffering with fibromyalgia for years before finally getting a diagnosis two years ago. I’ve tried several different prescriptions, which either didn’t work or had awful side effects. Is there anything natural you could recommend that could help with the pain I’ve been having?

A. Fibromyalgia can be frustrating disorder to live with. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition where people experience muscle and tendon pain throughout the body, as well as fatigue and an assortment of other symptoms that include muscles being tender to the touch and an overall “unwell” feeling.

For many years people suffering from fibromyalgia were often seen as crazy, going from doctor to doctor without ever finding a cause for the pain they were living with. Thankfully awareness about fibromyalgia is increasing and many people can now put a name to the reason they’ve been feeling awful for many years.

Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men, encompassing 80 to 90 percent of diagnosed cases. The occurrence of fibromyalgia usually comes on gradually and increases in intensity over time. Symptoms can be triggered or worsened by stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, grief, and infectious illness. In most cases, symptoms are severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to function normally in daily activities, and in some cases people can become disabled by the pain.

The exact causes of fibromyalgia aren’t known, though it has been speculated that those suffering from the disorder could have a disruption in the brain’s ability to process pain. A disturbance in brain chemistry can also be involved since many people with fibromyalgia have a history of depression.

There are several natural products that have shown to be effective for people with fibromyalgia. The first I would recommend is magnesium malate. Magnesium is great for relaxing muscles, and the malate form has been used with good results for reducing pain in people with fibromyalgia. Magnesium also helps with increasing cellular energy and reducing inflammation. Research has found that the majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium, so supplementing with magnesium, especially for people suffering from fibromyalgia, is a good idea.

One product that has shown helpful for depression as well as pain relief is the amino acid 5-HTP. 5-HTP can also be used as a sleep aid, by reducing anxiety and improving sleep. 5-HTP works by naturally increasing the body’s serotonin levels, and so should not be used by people taking a class of antidepressants known as MAO inhibitors.

Another idea for those with fibromyalgia would be to supplement with proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes, like the pineapple enzyme bromelain, help to reduce inflammation and pain. When people think of enzymes they usually think of digestive enzymes that are taken with meals to improve digestion. Proteolytic or systemic enzymes are taken between meals on an empty stomach. When taken without food, those enzymes pass through the stomach and intestine lining and enter the circulatory system, where they help to digest extra fibrin, scar tissue, and metabolic waste caused by inflammation. Proteolytic enzymes are helpful for treating many types of pain, from fibromyalgia to arthritis.

To submit a question to be answered in a future column send an email to [email protected] or mail to Healthy Answers for Life c/o Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive, Palos Heights, IL 60463

Carolyn Johnson is one of the knowledgeable associates at Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive. Feel free to stop by the store for more information or advice. www.passhealthfoods.com

This column makes no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate, or cure diseases with any advice or products. Any health related information in this article is for educational purposes only. The ultimate responsibility for your choices and their effect on your health are yours and before applying any therapy or use of herbs, supplements, etc., you should consult your health care provider. 

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